Thursday, 20 June 2013

Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2013: A Review

Vogue Knitting has released their Early Fall 2013 issue! Let's have a look at the patterns therein, shall we?

The first pattern is a cabled spencer. Spencers are tricky to wear — they're really only for relatively small-breasted women. And spencer wearers have to watch out for competing horizontal lines in the rest of their outfit, which chop up the figure in an unflattering way. This spencer is worn over a very simple fitted dress with just decorative tabs at the waistline, and I'm not sure that's even quite working.

Another spencer in a simpler style. This one looks like one you'd wear over very casual clothes.

Spencer no. 3. I do like it; it has a soft, pretty look, and the ruching is a nice touch. A lot of my anti-spencer attitude probably boils down to the fact that, unless I resort to major surgery, I will never, ever be able to wear one myself.

Very pretty lacy sweater with surprise back detailing. I was about to say something pouty about how I can't wear this because of the cropped length, and then I realized that this style can be made quite wearable for most women by simply lengthening it a few inches. You may also want to shape it a little so it doesn't look too boxy.

A spencer... hoodie. If you'd told me there was going to be a hooded spencer in this issue, I would have rolled my eyes, but I actually like this. That great back spiral cable detail is irresistible. Again, if you like this but you can't wear spencers, you can lengthen it.

Now a shawl-collared spencer. Vogue Knitting seems determined to boldly take the spencer where no knitting magazine has taken it before, and I have to admit I'm somewhat grudgingly going along for the ride. This is really quite nice, with very well-proportioned sleeves and collar and beautiful stitchwork, and it's perfectly styled. It really would look great on a woman who can wear spencers.

Very pretty lacy dress. You will need to wear something under this, as I see the model has done. That waistband won't work on every figure, and ordinarily I might tell you to just leave it out, but it looks like that might prove somewhat difficult and it would be a pity to spoil the excellent lines of this design.

Cute little cardigan with a few piquant touches. If you don't feel the cropped sleeve length and top button style works on your figure, the sleeves can be lengthened and buttons added without spoiling the look.

Hmm. I'm not sure about this one. I think it's meant to mimic a peasant-blouse style, which is an interesting concept, but the blousy shape and those tucked sleeves aren't going to be an easy look to pull off because they'll add visual bulk. And if you alter those things, this design will look like any other sweater. All I can say is, think carefully about whether you (or whomever you're knitting this for) will really be happy with how this looks when done.

Good call to make the lace batwing sleeves on this design transparent, because it keeps the look much more flattering than it otherwise have been. I'm not crazy about this design, but that's probably because I got maxed out on batwing sweaters in the 80s. If you like the look, this is probably as good a pattern as any.

Wow, this one is really something different. And I actually like it, though I will say I wouldn't use a vareigated yarn for the cables and hem. It's just too distracting and clunky looking amid all that delicate lace.

This designer was trying to make a sweater out of these floral hexagon patterns without using any incomplete hexagons... and wound up with a wide, cropped sweater. Unfortunately, "wide and cropped" are to clothing design what "low and slow" is to airplane flight, which is to say they are combinations to be avoided because you won't like the almost certain consequences. The floral hexagon is a really pretty building block for design, but if you don't want to shape them... use them for an afghan.

A cardigan with free-hanging lace panels. It's an interesting concept, but I think it was perhaps taken further than was advisable from a practical or aesthetic concept. I know perfectly well that if I were to wear this look, those scarves hanging from the front would drive me stark raving mad within a day, not to mention wind up in my lunch, if it hadn't already gotten into my breakfast. If I were making this look, I'd dial it back a little. I'd inset the lace panels in the front rather than have them free hanging, or possibly leave them off altogether. The back lace panel and the sleeve lace overlay could stay.

This is a nice little design. It'll be wearable for most women, and can be worn anywhere.

Stunning design. I love the single chains of stitches running the length of the design. It really adds definition and visual interest.

This lace cowl doesn't have any striking features like the last one, but it's still very pretty.

Erm. Um. Trying to come up with a reasoned critique here, but honestly, this one is just silly. Tacking lace ends randomly onto some sort of interesting ethnic art-inspired design does neither design element any favours.

This is pretty, a practical way to keep your scarf in place, and a nice solution for how to wear brooches when you don't want little brooch holes in your clothes, but I'm not sure I would plop that expanse of stockinette stitch into this lacy scarf. If I were to knit this scarf, I think I might do it all in lace, while keeping the slot to pass the other end through.

A delicately pretty cowl.

I can't say I care for this one. It's really too unsophisticated for a grown woman, although it might look quite charming on a little girl or a teenaged girl.

I was going to make fun of these two designs because they aren't something I would ever wear, but then I realized that if either of them had a swan on it rather than a tiger or a wolf, I'd be all over it. I think the appeal of such animal sweaters lies in how much you like the particular animal depicted. If the tiger or the wolf is your totem animal (half the people I know have an animal they think is cool or cute or relatable enough that they collect decorative versions of it), you might want very much to make one of these. They are good designs — the lines are good and the animal portraits are extremely well rendered.

This one has good lines and a considerable amount of thought and care has gone into its design, but I don't quite know where one would wear it. It seems like an off-beat Christmas sweater, or I suppose it might be the kind of thing you can wear while weekending at a hunting lodge. It's a little too novelty item-ish to wear to many other places.

This sweater is quite cute. The little fox is playful without being too overwhelming.

I would so tweak this cat sweater until the cat on it looked like Grumpy Cat.

I mean, if you're going to wear a cat sweater, it really ought to be a Grumpy Cat sweater. And you can save it to wear on those days at the office.

I am not clear what the animal on this sweater is supposed to be. I think it's a dog. Correct me if I'm wrong, please. I can't say I care for this one. It just looks crude and unappealing.

This is the same pattern done in three different colour schemes. It's a fine illustration of how the selection of colours and placement of simple stripes and colour blocks can radically change a sweater's appearance. If you want to try your hand at some basic design, you might begin with this project. The sweater has a good shape, and you can play with the colours and do something with them that's perfectly you.

A knitted varsity jacket. Well, it's as well-rendered as a knitted version of a varsity jacket could be. I think I'm unenthusiastic about it because I know I'm beyond the age of being able to wear anything so collegiate.

A striped cropped jacket. This, like the varsity jacket, is a very young look.

Another varsity-style knitted jacket. I think I preferred the first one better. It looks as though it'll hold its shape better, and the "V" on this one looks rather roughly done.

This one's the best of these varsity style jackets; it evokes the sporty, casual, youthful feel of one without actually trying to be a too literal version of one, and a woman over 25 can wear it without looking as though she's trying to relive the day she got to second base with the captain of the school's baseball team behind the gym at lunch.


  1. A lot of these are so unwearable to me. But then we get to the animal sweaters and even though they do not have giraffe (my animal), I want to make most of them!!!!

  2. I think everyone should have a grumpy cat sweater.

  3. I am wondering. If the animal motif sweaters had been made in less 'pop' type shades, for example a grey or silver wolf, with grey or dark trim....would it have made them more wearable?

    I admit that I designed the Wolf Sweater, but had designed it to be a sort of mid charcoal wolf against a silver background, in woolly yarns with a bit of fluff (rather than superwash and sleek) and less in your face.

    I had also submitted a similar sweater with a lipstick motif, instead of a Wolf. The UK shops are full of large animal motifs on sweaters, and so are the catwalks, but often the High Street colours are not as in yer face as the ones that VK chose.

  4. Erssie, thanks so much for posting. It's interesting to hear from a designer about her original intentions for the piece! I think your colourway for the wolf sweater would have made it more classic and mainstream. Wolf designs are usually in shades of silver, gray and black. VK was probably trying to give the design an unexpected twist. And I don't think that's a bad idea, because it presents knitters with an option they might not have thought of.